Genre: Anthologies (multiple authors)

Guest Review: Going Up! by Safyre Starr

Posted October 13, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Going Up! by Safyre StarrReviewer: Tracy
Going Up! by Safyre Starr
Published by Purple Prose Press
Publication Date: June 15th 2017
Genres: Erotica
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two-stars

All Rachel wants to do is get to work on time. And coffee. She wants coffee. All Jamie wants to do is get out of this moving box quickly before his claustrophobia kicks in. Unfortunately for both of them, a stopped elevator traps them between floors in their office building. Will Rachel survive without caffeine? Will Jamie keep it together? Or will their enforced togetherness lead to a sensual encounter that neither of them expected?

Jamie and Rachel get stuck in an elevator together after an earthquake and that’s not good for either of them.  Rachel is a bear without her coffee (which she hasn’t had yet) and Jamie is claustrophobic.  If the building wasn’t so tall he’d have taken the stairs.

Rachel knows that James is the son of the founder of the law firm she works at and had recently been brought in as a full partner. He had worked at J.A.G. and though had never seen any combat he had still had a harrowing experience having to do with a bomber and had PTSD.  Rachel tries to soothe him in the elevator as much as possible and soon that comfort turns into the two are having an incredibly erotic experience together.

After they get out they talk and decide that they need closure because things were left unfinished. They decide to meet at a hotel to finish what they started. What this means for the future of their relationship – if there even is one – neither one knows.

This was a short, simple erotic story of lust in an elevator.  There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to it or the characters and I didn’t actually find it that erotic.  Once James and Rachel were in the hotel “finishing up” I found things awkward and stilted.  The story ended with them deciding to try to work things out but that was unsatisfying for me.  I guess it was good they didn’t fall instantly in love but I would have liked to have a least a little bit of romance involved.

The story was ok but not one I would recommend.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars


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Guest Review: Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent & May McGoldrick

Posted October 12, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent & May McGoldrickReviewer: Tracy
Christmas in Kilts by Bronwen Evans, Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Lavinia Kent, May McGoldrick
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: October 3rd 2017
Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors), Historical Romance
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four-stars

A HIGHLANDER'S HOPE by Terri Brisbin A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander visitor for the holidays who brings with him an offer and hope!

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas... maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans She's ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he's trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family's wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick A chance encounter between a ship's captain and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A Highlander’s Hope by Terri Brisbin

Iain McKillop is a widower who, by my calculations, is in his mid-40’s.  He’s ready to marry again and his nephew thinks he can use him for some sort of clan alliance.  Iain knows that there’s really only one woman for him, and that’s Robena of the MacKendimen clan.

Robena is the village harlot.  While she doesn’t love what she does she has protection from people in the clan and they care about her.  The only person who ostracizes her is the Laird of the Clan – who’s not a nice man anyway.  Robena is excited when she hears that Iain is coming to visit for Christmas because she loves spending time with him.  He puts a genuine smile on her face and of course she loves that he pays for her exclusive services while he’s there.

Robena can tell right away that there’s something different with Iain but is shocked when he asks for her hand in marriage.  He wants a wife and a mother to his children.  She doesn’t think she’s good enough for him and besides, she can’t have children – how can she be the person that Iain needs in his life?

I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of this story when it started but Iain and Robena soon won me over.  Iain was such a giving man and he truly loved Robena – despite her profession.  He dealt with her past men in his own way but certainly wasn’t willing for her to be with anyone else ever again.  It was a sweet story in the end and I liked how Brisbin worked out the details of their future life together.

 

A Highland Christmas Wager by Lecia Cornwall

Meggie MacLeod is traveling home with her grandmother.  She is excited to be going home for Christmas after being gone for three months taking care of her grandmother after she’d broken her leg.  Unfortunately the weather is against them and they can’t make their halfway point before the blizzard begins.  Their travelling group takes refuge at the closest keep and that happens to be the home of the man who’d taken Meggie’s virginity eight years earlier. She’s definitely not happy about being there.

Magnus McVane is the Laird that had seduced and left Meggie all those years ago.  She’d thought herself in love with him after only 3 days but after he finally had sex with her, he left to go get married.  She was devastated.  Magnus isn’t home alone, however.  He has his dead wife’s brother, Charlie McKay – yet another Laird – there with him.  Magnus is hoping to get Charlie to marry his sister, Catriona, who they all think is a shrew.  Also visiting is Laird Hugh MacAuley who is there under unknown circumstances.  When Magnus sees Meggie he’s positive he can seduce her again and then he could probably marry her as she’s an heiress.  Charlie’s got his eye on her as well though, and they end up making a wager, dragging Hugh into their game.  Whoever gets Meggie to willingly kiss them first – a long kiss, not just a peck – gets a few prized possessions from each man, but also the right to talk to her father about her hand in marriage.

Hugh is at the keep as he’s been instructed by the elders of his clan to ask for Catriona’s hand in marriage – something he really doesn’t want to do.  The elders don’t think the man has a brain and though he is laird he truly has no power.  When he sees Meggie he is attracted to her immediately and rethinks his possible proposal to Catriona.  He’s a shy man, however, and bumbles along with Meggie despite her attention to him.

This was a lovely, romantic story.  I loved Hugh and his quiet, calm personality.  He was a breath of fresh air compared to the obnoxious Magnus and the over-excitable Charlie.  Hugh and Meggie were perfect for each other and the ending of the story put a smile on my face.

 

A Scot for Christmas by Bronwen Evans

Dougray is thinking about getting married to beget an heir but he plans on a marriage of convenience so that he won’t get attached to a wife.  His first wife died and he doesn’t want to have to live through that once again. His plan is to marry a neighbor’s daughter, Fiona Mackenzie, so that he can help her father financially. He made a promise to his dying father that he would help the Mackenzie, but the man would not accept his funds – even as a loan.  Marrying Fiona is the only way he can get the funds to him.

Dougray and his cousin, Angus, are having a hunting party around Christmas time.  A party that includes his friends and their paramours, with a couple other women of questionable virtue coming along as well.  When Dougray’s best friend’s younger sister arrives he’s horrified and tries to get her to leave at once.  She refuses, of course, and instead asks him something.  She is in her late 20’s and has come to terms with her spinsterhood.  She asks Dougray to sleep with her.  She’s been in love with him for years and plans on having the memory of their lovemaking to last the rest of her life.  Dougray refuses at first but then finally agrees as he can’t resister her. He doesn’t realize until later that Emma is in love with him.  Despite his growing feelings for Emma he’s determined to marry Fiona Mackenzie. He refuses to have a wife he cares about.

This was a good story, not one of my least favorites.  I guess it was just too predictable in my opinion. I knew that Dougray would sleep with Emma, of course, and he would fall in love with her and live happily ever after.  It was written in an entertaining way, and I liked the characters, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of A Scot for Christmas.

 

Leftover Mistletoe by Lavinia Kent

Emma Spencer is having a bad day – really, a bad life.  Her dear father had passed on and her cousin had taken the Earl’s title.  Unfortunately her cousin wasn’t a kind man and she was being sent to Scotland to live with her uncle who she didn’t even know.  Emma had marriage prospects as she was quite pretty. She believes her cousin is sending her away so she won’t ever marry.  Her financial portion would then stay in his hands forever.

She was travelling when her maid disappeared with her bag.  Her trunks were coming later and with the maid gone she was left with the clothes on her back, her reticule, and very little money.  She buys passage on a coach and the only other passenger is a snoring man who takes up way too much room.  At one point during their travels they stop.  Emma doesn’t know why and soon all is quiet.  When the man finally wakes up and goes to investigate he finds that there’s no coachman and the team of horses have been driven off as well.  He’s familiar with the land so he takes Emma to a cabin where they try to brave the storm that has begun.

Emma finds out he’s James Barran and he’s on his way to Edinburgh so that he can stop his sister from marrying his best friend.  He loves his best friend, but doesn’t want his sister marrying him.  He’s bound and determined to stop the wedding but his friend Robbie kept throwing up roadblocks to stop him.  One being the fact that Robbie paid the coachman to take the horses and now he and Emma are stranded.  They head to the cabin and while they’re there their attraction to each other grows and they start to fall in love.

Kent always writes such charming romances.  This was no different.  Yes, the couple fell in love quickly but it fit with their lives and circumstances of their confinement.  I thought James and Emma were perfect for each other and complimented each other well.   The humor in the story is another thing I liked about this story.  The banter between Emma and James was engaging and I found myself smiling a lot while reading.

 

Sweet Home Highlands by May McGoldrick

Captain Gregory Pennington is on his way home to his family for Christmas but is tasked by his brother with escorting four adults and a child to a neighboring estate near his home.  He’s in a pub and is anxious to be on his way when a small child starts up a conversation. She’s a funny little imp and mature beyond her 5 or 6 years.  It turns out that this is the child that he is to escort along with her aunt, Freya, and couple of servants.  The fourth person was to be Freya’s almost-fiancé but he doesn’t ever show up.

Freya is a young woman who has raised her niece almost from birth.  She was only 17 when her sister died a week after giving birth and she loves little Ella like her own.  Ella’s father was killed in the war and his family never wanted anything to do with Ella until recently.  Now Ella’s grandmother is demanding their appearance at her home so that she can make sure that Ella is financially well taken care of.  She also intimated that Freya wasn’t a proper guardian because she wasn’t married.  Because of this Freya had an understanding with the cousin that would inherit Freya’s father’s title and lands when he eventually passed.  Freya wasn’t looking forward to the marriage but was resigned to her fate in order to keep Ella with her.

Gregory is smitten with Freya the minute he sees her.  The minutes they spend together on the journey just make him like her more and more.  Freya starts to fall for Gregory as well but she knows that she must marry her cousin in order to appease Ella’s grandmother.

As I read more of McGoldrick’s books the more I become a fan.  This story was simply romantic on all levels.  It was the kind of story that will make you sigh with wonder at how sweet it is – but not sugary at all.  Just downright a lovely story.  This is kind of a prequel to a new series that McGoldrick is putting out and I personally can’t wait for it to release.

Gregory and Freya were wonderful in the story and little Ella – that child with a personality beyond her years – was enchanting.  I liked everything about this story and highly recommend it.

 

In the end I thought this was a very good historical anthology.  A lovely compliment of authors that brought a little Christmas cheer and romance to my life.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven

Posted September 11, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Gaslight Hades by Grace DravenReviewer: Holly
Gaslight Hades (The Bonekeeper Chronicles, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: The Bonekeeper Chronicles #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 117
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four-stars

Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he's earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married.

Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

GASLIGHT HADES is a 39k-word novella-length gaslamp fantasy romance with a sprinkling of airships, monsters and ghosts.  This story may also be found in the duology, Beneath a Waning Moon, alongside an Elizabeth Hunter tale.

Gaslight Hades is a dark and gritty novella that introduces us to a new Steampunk series by Grace Draven.

Nathaniel Gordon used to be a gunner on an airship, until he fell into hell and was remade by a monster. Now he’s a Guardian; Able to walk between two worlds – the living and the dead – he’s a Bonekeeper, a protector of graveyards and those who reside in them from grave robbers, who steal dead bodies and deliver them to madmen to be experimented on and brought back to life in the worst imaginable way. Life as he knew it is over, he understands and accepts that…until his lost love, Lenore Kenward, turns up in his graveyard for her father’s funeral.

Lenore begs The Guardian to watch over her father’s grave, not realizing he’s what’s left of the man she was meant to marry. There’s something very familiar about him, and she finds herself drawn to him despite his appearance and the probably danger. But will she still be able to accept him once she finds out the truth?

This my first story by Draven. I really like Steampunk so I expected to enjoy it, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. I was very sad it ended when it did. I would have loved to have more: More of the world, more Lenore and definitely more Nathaniel. I’m really excited to see this is just the start of a series and I hope all 6 Guardians get their own books.

3.5 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Maybe This Summer by Jennifer Snow

Posted July 28, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Maybe This Summer by Jennifer SnowReviewer: Tracy
Maybe This Summer by Jennifer Snow
Series: Colorado Ice #2.5
Also in this series: Maybe This Christmas
Published by Forever Yours
Publication Date: July 10th 2017
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three-stars

Always a wingman . . .

Owen McConnell is used to being ignored. After all, it's only when he appears as the Colorado Avalanche's team mascot that he gets all the attention. When the costume is off, women tend to gravitate toward his famous hockey player friends. But after he meets lovely, damaged Paige Adams, he knows he can be the star player for her. She's raising funds for the hospital burn unit, and Owen's determined to help her out---and sweep her off her feet.

The burn unit has been near and dear to Paige's heart ever since the doctors helped her after a vicious attack. Yet the scars---both emotional and physical---haven't faded as much as she'd hoped. She's closed herself off from relationships, and the thought of opening up is terrifying. But Owen's sexy charm might be just the push Paige needs to start loving again.

Owen McConnell is an ex-hockey player who had left playing with the Colorado Avalanche to join the Marines.  He had lived through an injury by a landmine but that meant he couldn’t play hockey ever again.  He was now the team’s mascot (not that anyone but the players knew that) as well as the Colorado Avalanche’s team promotion manager.  He heads to the local hospital to meet with a woman who would like his friend Ben to play in a golf tournament to raise money for the burn unit.  The minute that Owen sees Paige Adams he falls hard.  He will do anything to get her to see him but she seems to look right though him.

Paige was a burn victim herself and hasn’t let herself consider dating in years.  She knows that Own is interested but she’s not.  One thing leads to Paige being at the DMV where Owen.  She’s in a hurry and he has a number that’s about to be called.  Owen knows he shouldn’t bribe Paige to get her to date him but he goes for it anyway.  Unfortunately Owen does an idiotic man thing and almost blows his chances entirely.

This was a cute novella that had a great premise and was well written.  Paige had been a victim of a hate crime and had walled her emotions off afterward.  Meeting Owen made her think that maybe she could be more than she had been for years – and let people see the real her.  Owen was a jerk at times but he was good for Paige and that made me happy.

My major issue with this story was that I felt no romantic connection between Paige and Owen.  Friends? Yes.  But nothing more spoke to me in their relationship.  It might have started when Owen fell all googly-eyed over Paige after one minute of knowing her but it didn’t get better as the story went on.  I could totally see these two as great friends but nothing more.  Still a cute story, though.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden

Posted May 11, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin VaydenReviewer: Tracy
Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet, Kristin Vayden
Published by Blue Tulip Publishing
Publication Date: March 13th 2017
Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors), Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

Offsides by Elise Faber

Job title:
Executive Assistant for CEO of Prestige Media Group

Job description:
(1) Deal with a massive amount of emails.
(2) Schedule conference calls and meetings with top athletes and other hugely important people.
(3) Pick up dry cleaning and food, consult on tie selection, make dinner reservations, and book flights . . . basically act as a wife-on-steroids.
(4) THE IMPORTANT ONE: Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with Devon Scott—demanding boss, former NHL player, and all-around gorgeous specimen of the male persuasion.

Job performance:
Failing.
Absolutely failing at number four.

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Life couldn’t be better for Charlie Woodruff.

After a year of holding out, she’s finally landed the job she’s always wanted in the city of her dreams. An apartment she can afford and new friends at work make the transition easy.
When she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like the icing on the cake...

Until Charlie discovers he’s a client.

Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer.

And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to.

But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Everything about Ava screams off limits.
To want her is to invite disaster.
To pursue her is to risk my job.
To kiss her might cost me my best friend.
But all those risks seem small in light of the first problem.
She hates me.

To her I’m a sell out, choosing to advance my career rather than protect my biggest client.
Her brother.
And my best friend.
She hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, but that ends now.
Because I’m done with holding back.
To hell with the consequences.
Wish me luck . . .

Offsides by Elise Faber

Devon is a retired hockey player and now the CEO of Prestige Media Group.  Becca is his temporary assistant while his regular assistant is on maternity leave.  Devon is hot for Becca but knows that he shouldn’t get involved with an employee – even a temporary one.  Becca has got it bad for Devon but as much as she wants him her life is too crazy to get involved with him.  Her mother needs medical care and Becca works two jobs to try and pay the medical bills.  She’s also got an angry ex that is messing with her and is more than dangerous to both Becca and Devon.

This was a sweet boss/employee story.  Devon doesn’t hold out for very long before he’s giving in to his desire for Becca but I loved the sexual tension between the two of them.  I liked a lot about this story – the dialogue, the story, the passion between Devon and Becca – it was just a good read.

Story rating: 4 out of 5

 

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Charlie has finally started the job of her dreams.  She’s recently moved to San Francisco and is out running when she runs into a fellow runner.  They hit it off and she thinks that maybe this guy might be someone she can really like until she finds out his name, Hutch Barlow, and realizes who he is, new wide receiver for the Oakland Raider, and that he’s a client of her boss.  Prestige Media Group – her new employer – strictly forbids employees from dating clients.  Charlie tries to get Hutch to understand that she can’t see him but Hutch refuses to take no for an answer – showing up at her apartment with dinner and his irresistible charm. Charlie finds herself falling in love with Hutch but she knows that she can never be with him as she’s not willing to sacrifice the career she’s always wanted.

This was an adorable story.  I loved Hutch’s persistence with Charlie even knowing that she was off-limits to him.  He just liked her so much and was willing to give up a lot to be with her that it warmed my heart.  I think a lot of people would have thought he was ridiculous but I found it romantic and lovely.  Fournet has a way with words and she did a great job writing this story.

Story rating: 4 out of 5

 

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Markus and Bryce were college roommates and best friends.  Bryce got drafted into the NFL and Markus got hired by Prestige Media Group and becomes his agent.  Bryce has a twin, Ava, who Markus has been in love with for forever.  He wants nothing more than to make Ava happy but she hates him because she thought at one point in Bryce’s career that Markus was selling out and taking a risk with Bryce’s life.  Bryce has gotten a concussion but recovered and went back onto the field.  Ava believed that Bryce’s life was on the line if he got hit again but he was fine.  Five years later Ava still hates Markus – or at least acts like she does.  She can’t resist the man for long as she’s always had a thing for him. Markus should stay away from his best friend’s sister but he just can’t do it once she finally forgives him.

Unfortunately this was my least favorite of the three stories.  I didn’t feel the chemistry between Markus and Ava as I felt I should.  I also didn’t feel the whole forbidden love thing that the whole anthology was based on.  There were some decent parts of the story but overall I didn’t care for Off Limits.

Story rating: 3 out of 5

 

Overall book rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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